While the white hot heat of a New Mexican summer might have some of your eyes trained on the impending autumn, we’re not quite finished with this season yet! With weddings every weekend, sunshine for days, and the occasional light afternoon rain, it’s no small wonder why summer weddings in New Mexico are such a hit — or why this is our favorite season at Perfect Wedding Guide.
So before we let the long days slip into fall, we have to pay homage to one of our state’s most famed landscapes. As certified New Mexico-obsessed residents, we can’t pick favorites, but we definitely were on the edge of our seats waiting for a White Sands wedding or styled shoot to get us through the rest of the year.
These guys are professionals. And they are pleasant, fun, and cool people to have along for the ride on a wedding day. I would hire them again and again except I only plan to get married once!
Joey and Sandy made the trek to New Mexico all the way from the pacific northwest for their elopement. And thank goodness they did! Sure there are beaches all across the coast, and sure most of them have vast expanses of sand. But none quite compare when it comes to the inexplicable electric energy of White Sands. For Joey and Sandy, this ethereal space perfectly paralleled the otherworldly foundation of friendship and love that unites them.
With not a soul around, save their photographers and officiant of course, Joey and Sandy commemorated their new chapter together with the desert sun above and their toes in the sand below. Matt Blasing Photography, a team of creatives renowned for their easygoing humor and disarming humbleness, captured all the smallest moments of magic as they mirrored the unending landscape around them.
The whole time shooting felt comfortable and easy. I am somebody who does not like taking photos – they always seem to turn out bad, so I did have some fears and really appreciated every bit of direction [Matt Blasing Photography] provided. I found myself totally letting go and being myself on my wedding day.
No, the New Mexico Perfect Wedding Guide team has not been kidnapped. It’s still us, the same love-obsessed locals whose entire lives revolve around weddings! We bet you never thought we’d be advocating against having a wedding, right? We didn’t either.
When it comes down to it though, we’re not choosing elopements over weddings, and we’re not saying either is better than the other. Elopements and weddings are two sides of the same lovey-dovey, romantic coin and plus, we have some introverts on the team who would be happy to avoid the crowd a traditional wedding can draw.
It helped too, that just when our wedding brains were steering toward elopement territory, a gorgeous gallery from T. Rayne Photography happened to come into view. Marisol & Charles, newlyweds and best friends, eloped in Santa Fe this past July, and Taylor, of T. Rayne Photography, was there to catch every smile and scintillation during the wonderfully intimate and incredibly happy occasion.
Their elopement session, full of laughter and love, was just the thing we needed to really get on board the elopement train. It also happens to be the session that’s most emblematic of all the benefits of choosing to elope instead of having a full traditional wedding. Wanna know why? Let’s jump into the 3 main benefits of eloping, then!
1. Your love is at the forefront
While the beating heart of weddings is love, too, the hustle and bustle of planning a wedding can sometime elbow its way to the forefront of your celebration. With vendors to book, cousins to invite, venues to tour, groomsmen to wrangle, gowns to be fitted, and more, the reality of planning a wedding isn’t always as pretty as the aftermath.
If you and your partner are working full-time, having children or dogs, are building a home together, or working through any other sort of life-stuff, you might not have the time to plan a full wedding. So your options then become either hire a wedding planner, or have an elopement. Both options suit different needs and personalities, so it all depends on what your love looks like.
And no one said you had to miss out on the party! More and more, we’re seeing local engaged couples opt for elopement ceremonies so that more focus can be put on the reception. Whether your reception is right after your elopement, later in the year, or for your 5 years anniversary, you can always celebrate your union with the people you love. (And avoid hurting your in-laws’ feelings if they don’t get invited to the elopement!)
2. You get what you really, actually want
Because, maybe you actually do want your in-laws there for the ceremony. Or maybe you want to wear photorealistic dinosaur head masks for part of the ceremony, because it’s hilarious and also surprisingly adorable. Or maybe you want to run away to the woods with the love of your life and secretly bind your futures together in the company of Ponderosa pine trees.
Whatever you want, you can have it.
It’s an elopement, not a wedding. There are no guests lists to work around, no great-aunts to please, no dresses and suits to coordinate around everyone’s aesthetic preferences and personal styles, it’s just about you and your soon-to-be spouse.
So yeah, get those dino heads on, it’s your day.
3. You save money
Yeah, yeah, we know. One of the first things people think of when they hear elopement is the money they’d save if they chose to do that instead of having a traditional wedding. And sure, that money can go toward a home, your honeymoon, or a myriad of other things.
Or, you could use the money you save on skirting the venue to focus on what is really important for you and your partner to have while you forge your new life together. For Marisol & Charles, it was important to have gorgeous, intimate photos to revisit for the rest of their lifetime together — that’s where T. Rayne Photography came in, of course!
For you and your partner, it might be something different. But with the money you save by eloping, you can choose to have the photographer, dress, location, or florist of your absolute dreams. All the rest of that stuff? Well, you can save it for your vow renewal or killer reception.
There is no wrong decision though. Whether you choose to weather the storm of planning a full, traditional wedding or go for something quieter, smaller, and more intimate like the Santa Fe elopement T. Rayne Photography captured — it’s all for the sake of love. (And for our sake too, because you know we live vicariously through the local weddings and elopements around us, so either way we’ll be swooning.)
If you haven’t already noticed, weddings are kind of a big deal in our state. Which is lucky for us, whether we’re natives, transplants, or traveling from afar to have a destination wedding in New Mexico. With a venue to match every vibe, troves of dedicated local wedding professionals, and completely unparalleled landscapes to surround your ceremony, you really can’t go wrong with a southwestern wedding here.
But that can also make it bit harder to nail down the details. It’s much more difficult to choose between twenty talented and innovative local florists than it is to choose between five. Especially when almost all of planning a wedding happens online! You can always check the reviews a wedding professional has, but we don’t blame you if that’s not enough verification to book them. Plus, good photos can be deceiving and if you’re choosing between twenty florists, you don’t want to leave it up to a nice shot on Instagram.
Of course, when you find a local wedding professional, you can always sit down for a face to face consultation to really get to know their values and talents. For most of us though, trying to schedule meetings on top of our jobs, families, and other responsibilities isn’t a walk in the park.
You see where we’re going with this, right?
The obvious answer to the age-old dilemma is this: wedding shows! We’ve already discussed whether or not wedding shows are worth it (hint, they totally are), but with the Wedding Gallery show right around the corner on August 4th, the real question is — what makes this show different from the rest?
1. It’s curated.
Each year, we choose a super strong theme to be at the center of the Wedding Gallery show. Each wedding professional who chooses to be a part of the Wedding Gallery show brings their absolute A-game to showcase that theme. In doing so, engaged couples from all across the state can get lost in the collective cohesion from New Mexico’s best wedding businesses, check out what they’re truly capable of, and know that the professionals they book here will put just as much heart and soul into the them of their wedding.
2. There’s a couture fashion show.
Yes, it’s true, we also have a fashion show at the Diamond Dash wedding shows in the fall and spring. We love showcasing local bridal fashion, can you blame us?! At the Wedding Gallery show, however, the fashion show is couture and also, like the vendors and all other details of the show, highly curated. The fashion-forward, bold approaches to tradition that were previously reserved for coastal states and bustling cities is here, too.
3. And a VIP experience.
The couture fashion show isn’t just a free-for-all. Because the Wedding Gallery is catered to discerning, committed couples in the midst of wedding planning, each step of the way is created to mimic the high-end experience that New Mexico can offer. With swag bags upon entering, genuine attention and kindness from local wedding professionals throughout the morning, and front-row seats to the fashion show to round out the day, couples of New Mexico can expect to be pampered while they plan their wedding at the Wedding Gallery show.
VIP seats are limited, click here to reserve yours.
It’s no secret that we’re spoiled here in New Mexico when it comes to wedding venues. From the quiet mountain gems like Nature Pointe, to urban-chic modern chapels at the Hyatt Regency Downtown, our home state has a venue for pretty much any aesthetic or preference.
Not to mention the fact that competitive price points, multiple ceremony spot options, and unbelievably accommodating event staff are all common features of wedding venues in New Mexico, too. So when it comes to choosing just one for your wedding, well, we understand how the overwhelm of options can inundate during the beginning stages of the wedding planning process.
Victoria and Sean’s wedding at Casa Rondeña Winery proves, though, that no compromise is necessary when it comes to finding the perfect wedding venue for your celebration. Sean first proposed to Tori on the historic garden grounds of Los Poblanos. After getting down on one knee surrounded by the beauty of the organic farm + inn, the couple stayed in one of the rooms to celebrate.
So when their wedding day came around, incorporating Los Poblanos into the festivities was a must. Tori, elegance embodied wrapped up in lace, got ready in the very same room where the couple first commemorated their new engagement.
We loved the farmhouse room with its tall ceilings and beautiful canopy bed. It was the perfect place for Tori to get ready.
The couple then had an intimate ceremony, with their closest family and friends, just up the street at the well-loved winery, Casa Rondeña. With Maura Jane Photography there to capture all the hidden moments and treasured details though, the celebration never really stops — Tori and Sean can relive their happiest day through her lens endlessly.
Tori’s step dad officiated after her brother walked her down the aisle. Sean’s daughter helped the couple light their unity candle, and other family members presented readings. After the ceremony guests followed the couple to cocktail hour, while the planner rearranged the ceremony space into a gorgeous and personal dinner party. A long farm table was dressed with beautiful lush garland and candles with touches of gold and navy. It was exactly as Tori had envisioned. The night ended with a beautiful sparkler send off as everyone hugged and wished the couple years of happiness.
If you know anything about your New Mexico Perfect Wedding Guide team, then you know we love two things. One, New Mexico; two, weddings. Which seems pretty obvious, but it really is as simple as that.
Only, our love for New Mexico transcends an affection for the rich cultures, venerable mesas and mountains, and traditional architecture that surrounds us. There’s a foundation of respect for our home that supports the love we feel for all of those beautiful and inspiring New Mexican features. So, in our small ways, we try very hard to preserve the perfection of our wild state.
Whether it be through recycling, supporting local, or educating our community, each little step culminates to make a powerful act of love for New Mexico. Though of course, we adore weddings as much as we do our state, so combining values to create a zero-waste wedding that uplifts our local community, creates a killer party, and offers some kindness back to the land — does it get much better than that?
Chances are, if you’re reading about how to incorporate zero-waste principles into your wedding, then you know it really doesn’t get better than that. Before we jump in though, give your self a little pat on the back for taking extra steps to support your community by booking local vendors and reducing the waste your wedding creates. Every little thing counts!
So — after consulting with the local wedding professionals who are experts in their respective crafts — we’ve pulled together 5 simple tips to reduce waste at your wedding in New Mexico! Because we all get to enjoy the landscapes around us, let’s do our best to make sure the generations after us get to enjoy them, too.
1. All reusable, all the time.
Whether you’re having a small, intimate elopement, or inviting every single cousin, people will come expecting to eat at your wedding. Eating as a group, as lovely and communal as it can be, also offers up a lot of waste if you use single-use materials.
Luckily, with local and environmentally-conscious catering companies like Cafe Venture or Blue Plate Catering, you can have all reusable serving ware! Think cloth napkins, silverware, ceramic plates, and the like. Not only will this give your wedding a higher-end vibe, but all these things can be washed and reused after your wedding, instead of sitting in a landfill for the next several hundred years.
If the local catering company you’re working with doesn’t offer reusable serving ware, linens, and china like these guys do, then don’t fret! Thrift stores can still be your best friend. Grab vintage, reusable silverware and dishes, and pull it all off with an eclectic, artistic vibe. Then afterwards, you can give away the thrifted materials, or just donate them right back!
If you go this route, be sure to communicate with your caterer ahead of time, so no wires get crossed on the day of your wedding.
2. Power in the Flowers
When it comes to floral arrangements, the best advice we have is to go silk! Does that seem counterintuitive?
While its true that flowers are compostable, you’ll want to pause before tossing them in your garden or local composting center. A majority of live flowers are treated with preservatives to ensure their long-lasting scent and beauty makes it through your ceremony. So before you bury them, be sure your florist sources from an organic farm like Europa, otherwise all those preservatives end up in your soil and, subsequently, the groundwater.
With silk arrangements — like the gorgeous, can’t-believe-it’s-not-alive bouquets from Charlotte’s Flowers — you have a bit more wiggle room for reusing. The immortal bouquets can be rearranged into home decor after the wedding, used in future craft projects, or gifted to a friend.
Whether you go with organic live flowers, or silk arrangements, or just a bundle of chamomile from Trader Joe’s, you can always reuse the flowers from your ceremony for your reception. Chances are you and your bridal party aren’t going to be carrying your bouquets all night long, so repurpose them! It’ll save you money and reduce your floral carbon footprint.
3. Something old, nothing new.
It’s true — the thought of buying a wedding dress from a thrift store sounds a bit horrifying to some. After all, this is the gown you’ll be wearing in hundreds of photographs, videos, and memories, is it worth it to risk it?
Thankfully, we have amazing local wedding professionals who can make a less-new dress totally risk-free. With shops like Bridal Elegance by Darlene, you can buy a gown ‘off the rack.’ Which, for those who don’t live and breathe bridal, just means it’s a sample of the gown, not one that was ordered, manufactured, and shipped just for you. With in-store seamstresses available for your wildest alteration dreams, too, there’s hardly a worry about making sure it fits in all the right places.
Or you can opt for a second-hand gown from specialty shops like The Dressing Room West in Santa Fe. This local shop carries off the rack gowns as well, but they come as excess directly from designers who need to make space in their warehouses. Or sit down with Terese Rose Designs, a local custom bridal gown designer, and have a chat about sourcing fabrics and potential choices for your gown.
Last option, and a favorite for your wallet, is to haunt thrift stores and vintage shops. With seamstresses across the state, there’s some serious magic that can happen with a secondhand gown. It’s worth it to give new life to an old gown that might have just gone into the trash, if not for the power of a trained eye and tuned sewing machine.
4. Make things easy for your guests.
As someone who personally composts, I’ll be honest: I don’t always compost when I’m out and about. Mostly because compost bins aren’t readily available around our state yet, and holding on to my food waste until I’m able to get home is smelly, messy, and not super convenient when I’m running around the town.
So you can expect a similar response at your wedding, even from your greenest of green friends. But luckily, you can mitigate this with a little bit of foresight during your wedding planning process.
Chat with your venue coordinator! When booking a venue, ask the coordinator ahead of time if they have enough trash cans to have one for landfill trash, recyclables, and compostables, all separated and labeled clearly. If not, bring your own!
Plus, if you’ve decided to book a local invitation and stationery company like Funky Olive Design or Pennysmith’s Paper, you can have your trash labels custom made. Then, there’s no sacrificing aesthetics for environmental-consciousness. Take it a step further by reusing the signs in your own home too, to make it easier for guests and kids that might be around to throw things away.
5. Favors in your favor
As much as your friends and family love you, they might not love your favors. Which is okay! A lot of personalities are coming together in one space to celebrate you and your partner, so trying to please all of them is virtually impossible.
Keep this in mind when choosing your favors. If 1, 10, or 100 guests don’t take home their favors, what will happen to them?
You can go with an adorable little plant like Aja and Johnny did for their wedding — so in the off chances these get tossed outside, at least they’ll compost. (Or root and grow right there!) Plus the metal tins are reusable in a million different ways, so if the succulent gets replanted, the tin hopefully won’t go to waste. And anyways, how cute are they?!
Or be like Lynsey and Kent, who had one of our very favorite apple orchard weddings.
Arielei Kinzer Photography
Their apple-themed favors were not only delicious and charming, but super earth-friendly! For those who opted not to take their little jars home, the couple got some extra homemade apple butter for their own family. For those who did decide to enjoy the treat, they got a reusable jar and a delectable spread to remember the wedding by.
So, whether it’s through your dress, venue, or favors — whatever steps you decide to take to preserve all the beauty of New Mexico, we thank you. We’d like to keep loving this state and the weddings in it for many more generations to come, and a few choices on your part help to ensure that’s possible.
From my first visit, Darlene and her team have been absolutely amazing when it came to helping my find the perfect wedding dress. Not only are they incredibly professional, but they genuinely care about helping you find your dream dress. This has been an amazing experience and I recommend everyone come here, you won’t be disappointed!
Britney, local bride
Now, despite the fact we, the Perfect Wedding Guide team here in New Mexico, have been working with local engaged couples and the wedding professionals in our state for a long time now, it’s still quite the assumptive leap for us to claim one bridal gown shop as New Mexico’s most loved. Or at least it would be, if we weren’t talking about Bridal Elegance by Darlene. See, with over 30 years of experience, Darlene and her team have the miles of positive reviews, community love, and name recognition needed to qualify as New Mexico’s most loved. It’s really no wonder that they do, either.
Rather than it being a fluke, or stroke of luck, or popularity contest, Bridal Elegance by Darlene has won over the hearts of brides and bridesmaids alike by being exceedingly kind and qualified, and having impeccable gowns. It really is that simple! Because, despite what the fairytales and Hollywood movies might have whispered in your prepubescent ears, choosing a wedding gown isn’t the easiest thing in the world. There’s sizing charts, measurements, fingers getting caught in zippers, giant mirrors for meticulous examinations, sequins in — ahem — interesting places, and more we don’t need to mention because you get the picture, right?
With all that confusion, the kind of people you want by your side teaching you how to bustle and tying up your corset back are the kind of people who really get it. And at Bridal Elegance, they get it. They know the wedding industry, they know their gowns, and they know the process of making this big decision can be overwhelming. With attention and care, the team at Bridal Elegance by Darlene act from this place of knowing, and create an environment for their brides that is so calm and conducive, you do actually get a bit of that fairytale magic. Especially when you find the one.
So yes, these masters of tulle, taffeta, and human kindness have made so many brides, so many bridesmaids, and so many flower girls feel beautiful and comfortable in their own skin that they have been granted the title of New Mexico’s most loved. To commemorate this and the fact we’ve been working with Bridal Elegance by Darlene for over 15 years now — holy moly! — we’ve recapped some of our favorite styled shoots and weddings featuring their gowns below.
Once you’ve been swept up in this local wedding magic, you’ll have no trouble loving Bridal Elegance by Darlene as much as we, and all these local photographers, wedding planners, and decor specialists, do too. You can contact the Bridal Elegance team here to get started on finding your perfect gown.
Bridal elegance by Darlene is by far the best place to find your dreams dress. They’re super professional, they listen to what you’re looking for and find you the most beautiful dress that you can imagine. Every single member of this shop is Extremely knowledgeable and just make it happen for you.
Darlene at Bridal Elegance is the best person to see if you want to look and feel your best in your wedding gown. She gives you that personal touch that you won’t get at a chain store. With something for every budget. She listens to what you are imagining for your big day and makes it come to life. Plus, she’s locally owned which is amazing!
You brought the prosciutto and brie, right? It is National Picnic Day after all! But don’t worry too much if you haven’t dusted off your trusted wicker basket for the special occasion. We’ve got you pretty well covered for your dose of picnic appreciation today with a meticulously planned, perfectly executed, apple-blossom-inspired styled shoot from Coryn Kiefer Photography, one of Albuquerque’s favorite wedding photographers.
If Coryn’s unique name rings a delicate little bell in your head, it’s probably because we were just obsessing over her ballerina styled shoot just a few weeks ago. Normally we spread the love all around for our local wedding professionals here in New Mexico, but frankly, this shoot made our hearts flutter upon first sight. Within a private, blooming forest framing the exquisite details, this picnic-styled elopement has us ready to throw out everything we know about traditional wedding celebrations.
A palette of baby pink, robin’s egg blue, and a rich mustard yellow complimented the natural green landscape and perfectly cocooned the essence of spring in one moment. Pulling the mythical vibes into the realm of modernity, the bride wore a Maggie Sottero gown from Bridal Elegance by Darlene adorned with ornate lace and gently sparkling beadwork. As Coryn Kiefer Photography commented, “Who says elopement brides have to give up on their dream dress?”
Scroll on to read what else inspired the pure, unbridled magic that is this styled shoot, and try to not get lost. To contact and book Coryn Kiefer Photography for your own fairytale, you can contact her here.
Keeping with our garden theme, we decided to forgo the usual sweetheart table for an intimate picnic of champagne and cake. Colorful throw pillows, vintage lanterns and a small wooden table were placed on a hand woven ivory quilt. Silver flatware, bronze candlesticks and pink water goblets complete the casual elegance of this cozy setup.
Our natural outdoor setting was a private apple orchard in the heart of Corrales New Mexico. The inspiration behind the setting was to combine the airy elegance of the spring season with modern notion of an elegant, and personal, elopement. Modern and vintage décor elements were artfully tied together to help bring this vision to life.